PokerStars wins big, claims Online Poker Operator of the Year award

The Rational Group is built upon delivering an outstanding experience to our customers. It is our customers who come first and who are the core of our business; everything that we do is designed to serve them.

We're pleased to see that our player-first ethos has been rewarded yet again with a raft of industry awards, and that our achievements have been celebrated by our peers within the online poker community.


The Online Poker Operator of the Year award

International Gaming Awards
This week, PokerStars received the 'Online Poker Operator of the Year' award for the second consecutive year at the International Gaming Awards held in London. During the past year, PokerStars has maintained its position as the market leader by continuing to improve its product and introducing innovative new features, including:

• Celebrating 100 billion hands dealt with the Million Dollar Hand Mega Milestone in June 2013 - a way of thanking players for making us the world's largest online poker site. It paid out $103,800 to micro stakes player Isidora 'microulis69' Panagiotopoulou.

• Setting a new Guinness World Record for organising the largest online poker tournament featuring 225,000 participants.

• Signing former Brazilian soccer star Ronaldo as a brand ambassador. He joins tennis superstar Rafa Nadal in a continuing effort to introduce poker to new audiences and increase consumer credibility and confidence in online poker.

• Hosting two of the largest online poker festivals of the year, The World Championship of Online Poker and Spring Championship of Online Poker, awarding a total of more than $137 million in prizes awarded to players.

Rational Group Chief Operating Officer Rafi Ashkenazi was joined by Paul Telford, Group General Counsel, and Guy Templer, Group Strategy & Business Development Director, to accept the award on behalf of PokerStars at the Savoy Hotel in London.

PokerStars was also recognised as a finalist in the Fair Play and Mobile Operator of the Year awards.


Rafi Ashkenazi, Paul Telford and Guy Templer (l-r)

GPI European Poker Awards
A new awards body was created from the merging of the European Poker Awards with the Global Poker Index (GPI), and sponsored by PokerStars, Poker52, and Lucien Barriere Hotels and Casinos. The first-ever GPI European Poker Awards were held during the PokerStars European Poker Tour Deauville poker festival in France on January 29.


Some of the trophies that were up for grabs in Deauville

Winners and nominees from the Rational Group family included:

Poker Industry Person of the Year: Neil Johnson, Head of Live Poker Operations, PokerStars Europe
Neil was recognised for his contribution to the industry through his leadership on poker issues. He is a key figure in the live poker world with a particular specialty on rules and scheduling, and is known for his work ensuring that the game remains consistent, fair and on a level playing field. In 2013, he joined the Poker Tournament Directors Association to further that goal.


Nail Johnson: recognised for his contributions to the game

European Poker Tour President Edgar Stuchly was also a finalist for this award. Edgar has led the European Poker Tour from strength to strength, and maintained its position as the world's largest and richest poker tour.

Marc Convey, co-host of the European Poker Tour Webcast, was another nominee in recognition of his work within the European poker media.

Best European Event of the Year: Full Tilt Poker Galway Festival
The Full Tilt Poker Galway Festival scooped the best event of the year title, narrowly defeating the PokerStars and Monte-Carlo Casino® EPT Grand Final. Galway won on the basis of its innovation inmaking poker accessible to people outside of the traditional poker world. The event achieved great success as Full Tilt Poker's first-ever live poker event, generating a great deal of coverage and interest in the game that we all know and love.

Internet Player of the Year
Full Tilt Poker Professional Viktor Blom, was a finalist for this award, defeated by UK player and EPT champ Toby Lewis. In 2013, Blom played a key role as a face of Full Tilt Poker, and also won the Spring Championship of Online Poker Main Event for more than $1 million.

Jury Prize: The Poker Dealers of Europe
The Rational Group, through its huge number of regional and national poker tours, is one of the world's leading employers of poker dealers. While this award was presented to all dealers in the industry, the Rational Group is fortunate to employ many dealers who represent our brands in a professional and diligent manner. They play a key role in our live events throughout the world, and we are grateful to benefit from their dedication to the game.

Gaming Intelligence "Hot 50"
Gaming Intelligence is one of the leading news outlets dedicated to the business of online gaming. Each year they publish a list of fifty "talented, inspirational and influential individuals" in the online gaming world. We're thrilled to see three of our staff recognised for their impact on the broader industry.

The three Rational Group staff who joined the Hot 50 of 2014 list were:
• Rafi Ashkenazi, Chief Operating Officer
• Eric Hollreiser, Head Of Corporate Communications
• Sam Hobcraft, Head Of Casino

More information about the "Hot 50" listing is available on the Gaming Intelligence website.

Michael Josem is the Head of Public Relations for PokerStars.